Aetna Gives California Health Insurance Policyholders the Boot

AetnaAetna Inc. made an announcement on Monday that will not only shock California customers, but also force them to make quick decisions regarding their health coverage. The health insurance provider shared its plans stop selling policies in the state and subsequently drop its current policyholders.

Aetna Inc. Drops California Policyholders

A number of health insurance providers, including Aetna, have been less than eager to participate in the California health insurance exchange.

As Covered California, the state agency implementing the Affordable Care Act for residents, prepares to open its health exchange — a marketplace where consumers will be able to purchase health insurance at group rates — UnitedHealth, Cigna and Aetna, companies with smaller market shares, have already announced their plans to opt out.

Unfortunately for Aetna California health insurance policyholders, however, the company has taken its plans one step further by choosing to only sell health plans in the state to small and large employers, as opposed to individuals. Further, it has decided to drop its nearly 50,000 existing policyholders, forcing them to find new coverage by January 2014.

Aetna has already begun notifying customers that they will need to begin their search for new health coverage. It will also stop taking applications for individual policies after July 15. Customers who don’t acquire new coverage by January 1 could face a penalty from the government.

How to Shop for New California Health Insurance Coverage

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones shared his disappointment in the health insurance provider’s decision to move away from the state’s market, noting in a statement that it “is not good news for California consumers.”

With many customers likely to seek other insurance through Covered California, how can they find coverage that will suit their personal needs?

  • Check financial stability of health insurance providers: One great way to ensure you move on to a company that will meet your needs is to check financial stability. This information can be located on websites like AMBest.com and StandardandPoors.com where companies are graded on their financial performances to date.
  • Check for complaints filed: Another option to consider is checking with California’s Department of Insurance to see if complaints have been filed against companies you’re thinking about working with.
  • National Committee for Quality Assurance: This group offers the Health Plan Report Card, which rates plans across the country plan type, accreditation status and star rating.

Of course, cost, plan types, co-pay, co-insurance and deductible details are also critically important when selecting health insurance. By incorporating all of these factors while conducting a search, it will be easier for consumers to transition into another health plan that will meet their needs.

(Image: Montgomery County Planning Commission)